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E-Commerce Legal Issues

E-Commerce Legal Issues

As increasing numbers of consumers and business customers turn to the internet to purchase a wide range of goods, services and digital content, it’s important for online traders to understand the relevant regulations and ensure that they have processes in place to keep them on the right side of the law.

E-commerce Ts and Cs

With the growing popularity of e-commerce, it’s crucial that you have a set of appropriate terms and conditions that are properly applied. Amongst other things, these should include your full company details, including the geographical address and email, and they should outline cancellation rights, particularly for consumers who have a “cooling off period” of 14 calendar days.

Website Ts and Cs

Even if you’re not selling any products on your website, you should have a professionally written set of terms and conditions which cover permitted uses of the website, together with any registration requirements and associated fees which need to be paid as a subscription to access the site. There should ideally be a link on every page of your website which refers to these Ts and Cs.


Websites which use non-essential cookies are legally obliged to seek consent from visitors before using them; however, implied consent is permitted. In practice, this means that you need to provide some kind of banner or icon which informs visitors that cookies are used on your website and that, by continuing to browse your site, they are consenting to their use. It’s also a good idea to provide instructions on how a user can turn off cookies within their computer browser.

Privacy Policy and Data Protection

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations set out a variety of marketing rules which apply to the use of email marketing campaigns, such as providing an ability for recipients to opt out. They also govern the rules surrounding the use of cookies. Meanwhile, the Data Protection Act regulates the processing of personal data by companies, specifying, for example, that data must be kept accurate and secure.

Consumer Contracts and E-Commerce Regulations

The new Consumer Contracts Regulations (which replaced the Distance Selling Regulations in June 2014) require all businesses selling goods, services or digital content online to consumers, to provide a range of details such as geographical address and phone number. They must also inform their customers of the 14 day “cooling off” period. The E-commerce Regulations provide further obligations for businesses using the web, even if they are only advertising their goods online. 

We have a range of up-to-date legal documents covering all aspects of e-commerce which can be used by your business and adapted to your needs. These can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click on the relevant links below for further information.

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